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After a successful run of 58 movies from 1946 to 1958, the Bowery Boys series came to an end with this movie. It probably died from a combination of the inroads television was making, the fact that the boys were getting too old to play adolescents, and the loss of Leo Gorcey for the last 7 movies. (He said he couldn't continue after his father, Bernard Gorcey, died in 1955.) His malapropisms, leadership and confidence was sorely missed by me. Stanley Clements takes his place in this movie, and I counted just one malapropism. Huntz Hall is up to his usual childish tricks (which made him so endearing to his fans, including me), dog-sitting a poodle on an ocean voyage to London for some diamond smugglers. But the other members of the gang, who were stowaways on board, seemed like excess baggage, and Hall just couldn't carry the comedy by himself. The movie didn't have the energy of the early entries, which Leo Gorcey and even Bernard Gorcey provided. A sad ending to a series I enjoyed as a kid.
The last block of the Bowery in the Bowery Boys series was reached with
In The Money. With Huntz Hall having completed his contractual
obligation, the series was canceled. Quite frankly it was never the
same after Leo Gorcey quit and Bernard Gorcey died.
Still this was a better film than most of the ones with Stanley Clements trying to take Leo Gorcey's place. In The Money finds poor Sach being hired by Leonard Penn for a rather exorbitant salary to escort a dog on an ocean liner to the United Kingdom. Only Huntz Hall would be dumb enough to think that getting a few thousand dollars for this task that something more than fear of dog-nappers was up.
Clements and the rest figure that much out and stow away on the ocean liner with what I will say is a rather clever gimmick. Scotland Yard Inspector Paul Cavanaugh is also eying Penn and his companions John Dodsworth and Patricia Donahue. But the crooks just tell Sach that Cavanaugh is one of those dog-nappers to be avoided. And the poor dummy believes them.
One thing that was a regular item running through the Bowery Boys series is Huntz Hall always getting vamped by a beautiful bad girl. The last of them and one of the best is Patricia Donahue, mainly because she doesn't at first come on sultry. But for such dumbbell Huntz Hall did all right in the screen babe department.
In The Money also illustrates another favorite premise of mine that plot situations can be both dramatic and comedic. If the bad guys were smuggling narcotics instead of jewels, Huntz Hall would have been a drug mule. The same situation could become quite deadly then.
Anyway In The Money was hardly the worst of the series and not the worst of the post Gorcey films.
Sach unknowingly dog-sits a diamond studded poodle for a gang of
smugglers during a trans-Atlantic voyage.
It's amazing the series lasted as long as it did, surviving well into the TV era with material now common to the little black box. Hall really deserves more credit than he's gotten for his raw comic abilities, on display here in highly energetic form since he knows he has to carry the film. Sure, his style was childish and over the top, but compare that style with Jerry Lewis's nitwit kid from the same era. Yet, Lewis is celebrated in many quarters as some kind of genius, while Hall is largely forgotten. Still, I don't see that much difference in absurd styles, except Lewis was backed by big studio Paramount, while the Bowery Boys depended on poverty row outfits like Allied Artists.
I agree with others-- the series was never the same without Leo Gorcey, a fine comedic talent in his own right and sturdy counterpoint to Hall's goofy shenanigans. As a result, Hall was left to carry on as best he could with budgets not much bigger than a take-out at MacDonalds, which is very much the case here, where everything occurs indoors, even the voyage. Worse, the action appears limited to the same room and hallway that merely get rearranged from one set-up to the next. No wonder it's the gang's swan song. Too bad they couldn't have gone out on a higher note. Nonetheless, their career from Dead End (1937) to this final entry (1958) spans 20 of the most turbulent years in the nation's history and a whole series of changing popular tastes. A pretty good record of longevity, I think, for a gang of likable losers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A lot of the Bowery Boys films recycled themes regularly, and after Leo
Gorcey left the series, Huntz Hall had to do most of the heavy lifting
to keep the series on track. As the last installment in the franchise,
"In the Money" comes up with a fairly original idea that has Sach
(Hall) performing bodyguard services for a poodle on a cruise ship. Try
reading that sentence over again. The poodle is an unwitting pawn in a
diamond smuggling operation, and the gang that hires Sach to do their
dirty work is relying on his being as clueless as he looks. Sach is not
about to let them down.
The icing on the cake here involves getting Scotland Yard in on the action, as the cruise ship destination is London. The rest of the Bowery Boys - Duke (Stanley Clements), Blinky (Eddie LeRoy) and Chuck (David Gorcey) - book passage on the ship with a stowaway gimmick impersonating a trio of English blokes. The ruse is intended to have them discovered by authorities and deported back to England. I'm not sure, but I think this could only have worked in a Bowery Boys flick.
The rest of the standard plot elements are part of the script, with a couple of slick hoods (Leonard Penn, John Dodsworth) assisted by a good looking moll (Patricia Donohue) who plants the jewels on Gloria the poodle. In a departure from your era films that feature an animal as part of the cast, Gloria is not credited with her off screen real name, so I have no idea who played the part. You just didn't have that kind of problem with Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.
With this final story in the Bowery Boys filmography, Huntz Hall brought his character Horace Debussey Jones to a close after a mere four dozen pictures. Amazingly, he found work into the early Nineties in an assortment of TV show guest appearances. Although the Bowery Boys were a diluted version of their earlier incarnations (Dead End Kids, East Side Kids), they always managed to entertain, and leave a significant enough body of work to keep new generations of movie fans amused with their inane antics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** In him being the perfect stooge or pasty to smuggle a
kings random of diamonds into the UK Sach is hired by diamond smugglers
Don Clark Blake Commings and Babs DeWitt to escort their pet French
poodle Gloria into the country. Giving Sach a $2,800 down payment with
the balance to be paid when Gloria is safety in England he's ready
willing and able to preform that task assigned to him! The kicker is
that if Sach is ever caught with the diamonds he'll end up spending the
next 10 to 15 years behind bars in a British jail cell! It's Sach's
fellow "Bowery Boys" Duke Chuck Butch & Blinky who smell a rat in all
this and decide to stow away as deck hands on the cruse ship taking
Sach together with Blake Cummings DeWitt and Gloria to London! The boys
mistaking suspect that Sach has fallen in love with the sexy blond Babs
Dewitt whom they suspect of being a gold digger wanting to take him to
the cleaners and clean out his bank account. It's not until late in the
movie that the boys realize that it's Gloria who's the object of Sach's
affection which turns thing all upside down for them.
Hiding the smuggled diamonds in a fake fur belt around Gloria's midsection Sach and the boys soon suspect, by feeling the lumps of diamonds hidden in it, that Gloria is suffering from a serious case of gall stones and have her examined by local veterinarian Dr. Rufus B. Smedley. It's when Smedley's x-rays of Gloria's stomach come up positive in that she in fact has stones but diamond ones inside her that Scoland Yard Inspectors Saunderds and White go into action only to get themselves cold cocked and tied up by Duke Chuck Butch and Blinky in them being mistaken for dog nappers.
***SPOILERS*** The ending has Sach and the "Bowery Boys" as usual save the day together with the stolen diamonds with Gloria ending up being the real hero or heroine in the film. By her getting rewarded by a grateful nation the royal milk-bone for getting the diamond back to where they so rightfully belong: The Royal Family Jewels in the Tower of London! It's then that Sach, who feels that he's the real hero in the film, in not willing to play second fiddle to a dog ends up sharing the royal milk-bone together with Gloria!
P.S "In the Money" turned out to be the last of the 48 "Bowery Boys" movies with only Huntz Hall and David Grocey as Sach & Chuck being the only ones left of the original cast from 1946 when the series started. Hall who more or less retired from the movies after "In the Money" had, unlike most of his "Bowery Boy" co-stars, done very well from himself by ending up being "In the Money" by swimming in money in a number of very profitable investment, as well as getting a 10% cut of the "Bowery Boys" film profits, in offshore oil as gas wells. Hall also survived his famous co-star in the series Leo Grocey, who passed away at the age of 51 in June 1969 from liver failure, by 30 years dying in January 1999 just days before his 80th birthday.
Lunching on the sandwich he delivered to a travel agency, messenger
Huntz Hall (as Horace Debussy "Sach" Jones) impressed some crooks with
is dimwittedness. They hire Mr. Hall as bodyguard for a poodle named
"Gloria" and book them passage to London, England. Hall hoped "Gloria"
was blonde Patricia Donahue (as Babs), but she's no dog. Hall doesn't
know it, but Ms. Donahue is part of a smuggling scheme. "Gloria" has
been shaved and strapped with fake fur containing stolen diamonds. In
order to protect Hall from danger, fellow "Bowery Boys" Stanley
Clements (as Stanislaus "Duke" Coveleskie), David Gorcey (as Chuck) and
Eddie LeRoy (as Blinky) decide to stowaway on the ship.
"In the Money" was, thankfully, the last film in "The Bowery Boys" series. These films ran from 1946-1958, with highlights including "Bowery Buckaroos" (1947) and "Hold That Baby!" (1949). There were some good films released during the 1950s, but the decline was most noticeable in "Jungle Gents" (1954) and "Crashing Las Vegas" (1956). "The Bowery Boys" was a legally necessary spin-off from "The East Side Kids" (1940-1945), which is nicely represented by "Bowery Blitzkrieg" (1941). Before that, they were most well known as "The Dead End Kids", which boasted many spin-offs and sequels. Comparing "Dead End" (1937) to "In the Money" shows just how exhausted the ideas had become.
**** In the Money (2/16/58) William Beaudine ~ Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements, Patricia Donahue, David Gorcey
In the Money (1958)
** (out of 4)
This film marked the forty-eighth and final film in the Bowery Boys series and the quality of the movie was a tad higher than it had any right to be. In the film Sach (Huntz Hall) is paid big cash to take a poodle on a ship and over to England. Something seems fishy so Duke (Stanley Clements) and the gang go on board with him and soon realize that the idiot is being used by some crooked diamond smugglers. It's rather amazing that any series could last for forty-eight movies so on one hand you really do have to tip your hat but then again it's not like they had enough decent stories to carry so many films. With that said, this final entry is not unlike most others as we have the dimwitted Sach getting involved with crooks and we know that in the end he'll find his way out and everyone will live happily ever after. In terms of laughs this film doesn't offer too many but what keeps it from being boring is the fact that the cast are in high gear and really deliver nice performances. I do wonder what was going on with Hall who knew this was going to be the final film in the series. He had pretty much been playing this character from the mid 30s on so perhaps his emotions just got the best of him and he decided to go all out. To be fair, there were only a few films where he was lacking in terms of energy. I thought he managed to do a fine job with the part here, although he did seem to tone down some of the characters dumber characteristics. Thankfully the performance is full of energy and this here really helps keep the film moving because there aren't many laughs in its 61-minute running time. Clements and the boys don't get much to do, although their bit pretending to be English stowaways was pretty good. Once again Bill Elliott appears briefly as the shop owner, although he's not given much to do either. For the most part the story itself is pretty far-fetched and lame but this could be said about countless films in the series. Needless to say, if you're not a fan of the movies then you're probably going to be hitting the stop button early on but fans should be mildly entertained and it's somewhat refreshing when you watch these in order that you've finally arrived at the end. There's no question that the series was on its final legs but at the same time it's rather hard saying goodbye to the boys.
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